Richard Davies wrote this fantastic detailed information on how to correctly purchase VW parts. I did some heavy internet archive wayback searching and happened to find cached portions of the no longer live OE Vee Dub site. Luckily, I was able to piece this information back together.
Photos: Stefan Warter
Article: Richard Davies
How to buy VW parts. NOS, Genuine, OE, OEM, Aftermarket. What do these mean?
OE: Original Equipment. This denotes the part was manufactured by one of the many suppliers of parts to assemble your vehicle on the production line. The part will be as good as any item carrying the VW Logo. Examples: ATE and FAG make Brake hydraulics, master cylinders, wheel cylinders, calipers, etc for VW. Bosch makes many of the electrical components; Zimmermann makes brake rotors and drums; Pagid and Jurid make brake pad and shoes; LUK and Sachs make Clutches; Pierburg makes fuel injection parts. Boge and Sachs make Shock Absorbers; Mahle and Kolbenschmidt make engine parts and so on… There are hundreds more OE Suppliers to the Volkswagen Audi Group.
OEM: Original Equipment Manufacturer – Same as OE.
NOS: New Old Stock. Genuine VW item no longer available from Volkswagen but item is Genuine VW.
Genuine VW: Genuine VW Part – generally still available from Volkswagen. But wait…. There is Genuine VW Germany, Brazil, Mexico, Spain, Ireland, Hungary, Poland, United Kingdom, South Africa and others. Genuine VW means the product is manufactured to VW tolerances; however, in our experience, products made in Europe are better than those made elsewhere, even if they carry the VW Logo.
Aftermarket German: Generally good quality, but not Original Equipment supplier. example: Meyle, Torpries. (I believe these are not OEM suppliers but they might have the odd item they supply to VW). Aftermarket from other countries. Beware, especially aftermarket products from China and Brazil.
Example: An OEM German Front Hood Seal, VW Part number 113 823 731B sells for $19.98 from OE Vee Dub. (It costs us around $14.75 once we have paid the freight and import duty). The seal is made by the original manufacturer to VW, the shape is correct, the six nipples to attach it at the top are correctly formed, and above all it is made of the highest-quality blend of EPDM rubber as supplied to VW. It will last for over 20 years without cracking even in the Arizona climate!
The same part number, 113 823 731B in aftermarket quality retails $5.95 (Southern California supplier retail price October 10. 2009) (Southern California retail price for the German aftermarket: $32.95). The cost for the aftermarket part from the major import houses is $2.10, less if imported directly from Brazil (about $1.50). And the cost for Chinese-made part is $0.75. Guess what? If you fit a Brazilian or Chinese part to your vehicle. it will take you three times as long to fit as the OE seal and it will crack within 6 months, less than a year even if you never take the vehicle out of the garage.
Now if you apply the same logic to Brake Parts for instance. A Brazilian wheel cylinder costs around $12 to $14 and an OE German one around $19.90. The aftermarket wheel cylinder will very likely fail after 2 years, the OE German one after 20 years. Which is the cheaper in the long run? Then, you have safety to consider. Even if you only use the vehicle on weekends, do you want your family to end up in the hospital, while your pride and joy is towed to the junk yard?
When purchasing parts, always ask or look on the web site for the Country of Origin or manufacturer. If in doubt, call or e-mail the supplier before placing your order. If they don’t know, or are not prepared to give the information, you can be fairly-sure it is poor aftermarket quality.
‘Lifetime Warranty’ – what’s that about? BEWARE: It’s the biggest con going. Most times, ‘Lifetime Warranty’ covers the lifetime of the part, not your lifetime or your vehicle’s lifetime. ‘Lifetime Warranty’ doesn’t cover shipping or workshop time to fit the replacement every 2 years. When you fit an aftermarket floor pan gasket, do you really want to lift the body off your vehicle every 6 months, or 2 years if you are lucky to replace the seal? And who decides if the lifetime of a wheel cylinder is 2 years or 6 months? The owner of the company who sold it to you!
When I see ‘Lifetime Warranty’ offered on an item – whether it is an automotive parts or anything else – I am immediately suspicious and unlikely to purchase from that company.
Let’s talk ‘Cost plus % discount’ schemes. Companies claiming they sell for ‘Cost plus 10%’ … what a load of old bologna!! They might sell one or two items for cost plus 10%. In fact, I’ve checked a few of these companies out, and it is more like cost plus 57%. Do you really think they can cover their electric, salaries, rent, phone, web site, advertising, etc by selling at cost plus 10%? If they are lying about this, what other whoppers are they telling?